We watched the great and solemn events in Britain last week. But we heard not a mention of North Carolina’s important connections to the royal family, to Elizabeth and Charles.
Understandably perhaps, because our connections are not so much with the late Queen Elizabeth II or her son King Charles III. Our connections run to earlier British royals, to another Queen Elizabeth and another King Charles, whose names ring many bells for North Carolinians interested in history.
Some, perhaps many of us remember from our school history lessons that the first Queen Elizabeth was a friend and patron of Sir Walter Raleigh, who sponsored the first attempted British colonization in North America at the settlement we know as the Lost Colony.
We learned that the settlers of the Lost Colony recognized Elizabeth I as their queen by naming the first child born in the colony, Virginia Dare, in honor of their unmarried and virgin queen.
Manteo and the Lost Colony site are in Dare County, which is named for Virginia Dare, thus indirectly honoring the first Queen Elizabeth I.
Hundreds of years after her death or disappearance, the memories of Virginia Dare and that of her queen are kept alive each summer in Manteo when the symphonic drama by Paul Green, “The Lost Colony,” features Elizabeth as an important character.
Year-round at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, visitors can encounter life as the English settlers experienced it. Included is a ship, named Elizabeth II, newly constructed but made to demonstrate how the first settlers crossed the ocean on a ship named for their queen.
So, North Carolina, especially in Manteo and Dare County, holds fast to its connection to the first Queen Elizabeth.
Our state has even closer connections to British kings named Charles. It got its name from them.
North Carolina, and South Carolina too, got named for King Charles. But it’s not clear which one.
Do we owe our state’s name to King Charles I, who reigned from 1603 to 1649 when he was beheaded, or his son King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 until his death in 1685?
Here is the case for Charles I as explained by the late H.G. Jones in his classic book, “North Carolina Illustrated, 1524-1984.”
“In 1629, King Charles I granted to his attorney general, Sir Robert Heath, a vast tract extending from near the present northern boundary of Florida to the southern shore of Albemarle Sound, an area named “Carolana” in the King's honor.”
Carolus is Latin for Charles. Efforts to establish active Carolana colonies did not work out. Meanwhile, in 1649, Charles I was deposed and executed. But the Carolana name stuck and was used to describe the region.
In 1660, the monarchy was restored, and Charles II became king.
H.G. Jones explained what happened then, making the case for the state name’s connection to Charles II: “The restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 left Charles II with heavy debts to those who had engineered his ascension to the throne, and on 24 March 1663 he rewarded eight of his leading supporters with a charter for a vast slice of North America from the 31st to the 36th parallels from the Atlantic to the South Seas (essentially the same lands previously granted to Sir Robert Heath in 1629). Over this province of Carolina, as the name was now confirmed in honor of Charles II, the Lords Proprietors were given broad feudal powers.”
Later the province was divided into North and South Carolina, so both states can claim their names came from King Charles II.
Elizabeth and Charles.
North Carolinians can claim connections to the names of both royals.
A trombonist, a violinist, a vocalist and a drummer will perform as part of Methodist University’s Friends of Music Guest Artist Series, according to a news release.
Each year, the series sponsors live classical and contemporary music demonstrations and recitals for as many as 500 youths and adults.
“These amazing musical enrichment opportunities are open to everyone in the Cumberland County area free of charge,” said Susan Durham-Lozaw, chairwoman of the university’s performing arts department.
Each visit will include an 11 a.m. master class in Hensdale Chapel on the Methodist campus; a private workshop at Capital Encore Academy; and a 7:30 p.m. recital in Matthews Chapel on campus.
For the first time in the series, one artist also will lead a drum workshop at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the release said.
Thomas Burge, a trombonist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra kicked off the series on Sept. 16. Originally from Australia, Burge earned his master’s degree at Julliard School and now lives in North Carolina. He has taught brass instruments at the college level and performed with orchestras internationally. He also has been a guest clinician and soloist across the country. Burge hosts a radio show and conducts brass ensembles, the release said.
The schedule for the rest of the series includes a violinist, a vocalist and a drummer.
Oct. 14: Violinist Megan Kenny is a member of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. A military spouse, she is originally from Montana. Kenny has a master of music degree in violin performance from Yale School of Music. She currently teaches at UNC-Pembroke, Campbell University and Red Lodge Music Festival.
Feb. 10: Yolanda Rabun is a North Carolina-based singer who performs and records across genres, including jazz, soul, R&B, gospel, folk, and contemporary music. Rabun also performs throughout the region in musical theater, opera and radio programs, the release said.
March 24: Liz Broscoe is a drummer and a facilitator who specializes in West African djembe and dunun drums. A resident of Lake Tahoe, California, she performs a theatrical solo drumming show, with her drum group, and as a member of a funk, jazz and blues band. With the support of local and national grants, she is currently a teaching artist in several schools and facilitator of social development drumming in juvenile treatment centers.
What North Carolina cookbook has sold the most copies?
If you ask the folks at UNC Press they will tell you that “Mama Dip’s Kitchen” is their all-time best-selling book. It has sold nearly 300,000 copies. Rarely do local oriented cookbooks published by community groups or churches sell in such numbers.
But “Island Born and Bred” published by the Harkers Island United Methodist Church’s Women has sold a reported 140,000 copies of its cookbook over the 35 years that it has been in print.
How and why did these cookbooks do so well? One of the secrets of “Mama Dip’s Kitchen’s” success was how the author shared her personal story of growing up in Chatham County and how it led to the success of her Chapel Hill restaurant. Writing in 1999, she told her story.
“I was born a colored baby girl in Chatham County, North Carolina to Ed Cotton and Effie Edwards Cotton; grew up a Negro in my youth; lived my adult life black; and am now a 70-year-old American.” She continued, “I grew up and lived in poverty most of my life without knowing it. My children, too, grew up in poverty never knowing that they were poor. Our house just leaked. No screen doors. An outdoor bathroom and little money.
“Our family was happy to sit around the table at dinner time, eating, poking jokes, and having fun.” Mama Dip’s book is a treasure of Southern cooking recipes. Still, the book’s success was due in large part to the appeal of her story of struggle that she shared.
Similarly, “Island Born and Bred” combines a magnificent collection of recipes with a good hard look at the story of Harkers Island and its people. Today, Harkers Island, on the Crystal Coast near Beaufort, has about 1,200 residents who appreciate its small-town appeal. Some are new residents, including retirees and second homeowners.
But the core population came from fishermen, mariners, boatbuilders, hunters, decoy makers and others whose livelihoods connected them to the ocean and nearby sounds and waterways. How the town got its start is also described in “Living at the Water’s Edge” written by Barbara Gariety-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher, and published by UNC Press.
Many of the ancestors of the town's residents “lived, haunted whales, and fished off Core and Shackleford Banks until the storms of 1896 and 1899 ravaged their homesteads and drove them to higher, safer ground.” Many floated “what was left of their houses and belongings across Back Sound to nearby Harkers Island, where they bought land for a dollar an acre.”
The descendants of these settlers have long ago passed away but, according to the authors, “the story of the exodus from Shackleford Banks is told with great reverence by islanders, underscoring a deep and abiding attachment to place.”
Among its more than 300 pages of recipes and memories, “Island Born and Bred,” a short note written by Susanne Yeomans Guthrie, explains this attachment.
“No tradition is more precious to a native Harkers Islander then the privilege of returning to Shackleford Banks. For it is through this ritual that island people ‘go home.’ In fact, the desire is almost an actual need--often undiagnosed by the individual but quenched only by going and ‘feeling’ the Banks under your bare feet.”
To help preserve these memories and share them with a wider group, the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, led by Amspacher, has reopened after the repair of extensive damage during Hurricane Florence. It is located on Harkers Island at 1800 Island Road and adjoins the National Park Service’s Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center.
With three floors of exhibits and experiences, the museum gives visitors a rich experience and real connection to the history of Harkers Island and other nearby Down East communities.
Was “Where the Crawdads Sing” set in North Carolina — as both the book and movie assert — and where, according to her publisher, the author Delia Owens now lives? Or in Georgia where Owens grew up? Or in Louisiana where the film was made?
Or in the African country of Zambia where Owens and her former husband are wanted for questioning in connection with an investigation of a death almost 30 years ago? The bestselling book has sold more than 15 million copies and the film opened in July with domestic gross ticket sales of almost $70 million.
The “Crawdads” story is summarized by Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic in the magazine’s July edition. It is, he writes, about “a girl in 1950s North Carolina who, through a series of improbable events, is forced to raise herself in an isolated swamp. Kya Clark, the protagonist, is, like Delia, a naturalist and loner” and is accused of “the murder of a caddish local bigshot, Chase Andrews.”
Was North Carolina the real setting Owens had in mind for Kya’s story?
The lands and waters described in Owens’ book fit the Georgia coastal areas better than North Carolina’s coast. Also, many North Carolina readers and moviegoers were surprised at the idea that Asheville, as described in the book and movie, was just a short drive from Kya’s coastal marsh.
Something must be amiss.
The moviemakers chose Louisiana and its swamps and marshes to film the movie version of Kya’s story.
But Goldberg, The Atlantic editor, thinks that Owens found Kya through her own experiences, not in North Carolina or Georgia or Louisiana, but rather in Africa. In an April 5, 2010, The New Yorker article titled “The Hunted: Did American conservationists in Africa go too far?” Goldberg described how Delia and her then husband Mark, “two graduate students in biology at the University of Georgia, were seized by the idea of resettling in remotest Africa.”
“When they arrived in January 1974, Delia, the daughter of a Georgia trucking executive, was 24 years old. Mark, who grew up on a farm west of Toledo, Ohio, was 29, the divorced father of a four-year-old boy named Christopher.”
Operating first in Botswana and then in Zambia, “Despite penury, loneliness, and drought, they established a viable research station” and learned how to gain the trust of the animals and to work funding sources. They were determined to protect the animals from the rampant activities of poachers who threatened to destroy the ecosystem.
Relations with local authorities were often tense.
According to Goldberg, Mark “had gradually come to command a corps of game scouts in North Luangwa, outside of Zambian-government oversight, by buying their loyalty through the provision of weapons, boots, and money; that they had militarized the 2,400-square-mile park (Delia wrote in one of their books that Mark created a special unit of scouts who would earn new guns, jungle knives, binoculars, and compasses for standout performance); that Mark’s adult son from his first marriage, Christopher Owens, had been placed in charge of training the game scouts in hand-to-hand combat; and that Christopher Owens frequently beat the game scouts as a form of discipline.”
In March 1996, ABC News aired a documentary about Mark and Delia and their work, including the killing of an alleged poacher. Goldberg writes that Zambian officials told him that “Mark, Delia, and Christopher Owens are still wanted for questioning related to the killing of the alleged poacher, as well as other possible criminal activities.”
Like Kya, Delia Owens has had to deal with an overhang of possible criminal charges. Goldberg writes that he was surprised that the book’s themes “so obviously echoed aspects of Delia Owens’s life in Zambia.”
So, if we want to visit the place where Kya’s story developed, perhaps we should go not to the marshes of North Carolina, Georgia, or Louisiana, but to the plains and forests of Zambia.
Elbert “Rex” Lucas loves to solve problems with his hands. The 76-year-old Fayetteville native worked as a heavy equipment maintenance operator for the Army. After his military service, he worked as an industrial maintenance worker for DuPont Teijin Films, where he retired after 37 years.
While working for DuPont, Lucas became close friends with coworker Billie Hooks. The two later became neighbors on the edge of Lake Upchurch, about three miles outside Hope Mills. Hooks and his wife, Teena, died about two years ago.
“Billie was crazy about lighthouses and had to have one,” Lucas said. Billie Hooks bought a wooden lighthouse during a “lighthouse buying craze’’ and mounted it on the edge of the lake. It stood there proudly until the winds of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 blew it down. Disappointed, Hooks dragged the broken lighthouse behind his house.
It sat there and rotted for several years until Lucas decided he would restore it to honor his friend.
“When I saw it laying behind his house, I knew it was special to him,’’ Lucas said. “Something had to be done with it rather than it going to waste.” Hooks’ son, Chip, now owns the house. Lucas approached him about restoring the lighthouse. With Chip’s permission, Lucas dragged the damaged wooden frame to his property where it sat another year while he gathered the materials he needed for his vision.
Lucas reasoned there was enough housing left to rebuild it.
“I wanted it to look like the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and the more I looked at photos of the lighthouse, the more details I noticed,” Lucas said. Seeing the monumental task before him, Lucas enlisted the help of his daughter, Lori Lucas, and his son-in-law, Doug Lazenby. Lucas designed it.
“I just painted,” Lori Lucas said humbly. Lazenby helped put the lighthouse together and bolt it to its base.
“Barring another hurricane, it’s built to last,” he said. The lighthouse is basically comprised of three parts: the base, the cone and the light. Overall, it stands about 13 feet tall. For the light’s housing, Lucas turned a two-and-a-half gallon bucket upside down and painted it black. The container holds a light that spins just like its larger counterpart on the Outer Banks.
Ever a stickler for detail, Lucas fashioned the surrounding guardrail out of wire and envisions someday adding small model figures to the display.
“The bucket was then mounted on a carburetor air cleaner,” Lucas said. The cone, or tower, is made of strips of sheet metal, and the windows were cut out and made from 3x5 photo frames.
“The entire structure sits on a base that’s made up of an old charcoal grill,” Lucas said.
Lucas used caulk to make the bricks look realistic. He used his hands to make the caulk look like stucco or stone. Lucas estimated he worked on the structure for four months.
Overall, Lucas estimates he has around $200 in the restoration of the lighthouse. He credits Metal Worx Inc. in Fayetteville for donating the memorial sign that reads, “In Memory of Teena and Billie Hooks.”
“I told Metal Worx about my project and they wanted to donate the sign,” Lucas said. Lucas said he couldn’t have completed the project on his own and credited his family and neighbors for their help. Lucas set a goal to have the lighthouse completed in time for the lake’s Fourth of July festivities. The crew finished the lighthouse on July 3, one day short of their deadline.
“It rained and stormed that day,” Lucas said, chuckling at the memory.
“Yeah, we installed the lighthouse while thunder and lightning crashed overhead,” Lazenby said. “But we did it.” Lucas restored the lighthouse to honor his friend’s memory, and it stands as a memorial to their friendship.
When asked what Billie’s son, Chip, thought of the tribute to his father, Lucas said: “Chip became very emotional, and we’ll just leave it at that.”